A few years ago, some friends of mine and I used to go to a local pizzeria to order pies and beers, and then take things to the restaurant’s outdoor bocce ball court. One of the wonderful things about bocce is that it requires just enough skill for you to take the game seriously, but is relaxed enough for everyone to participate. It’s also an incitation to good-natured ribbing. The kind of salty banter that seems irreverent, but is actually brimming with affection. It’s how old friends bond. “Get the fuck outta here, you don’t know how to play bocce,” is the sort of thing I say when I absolutely don’t want you to get out of here, but instead stay and play bocce with me.
The game is simple. Someone pitches a small, white ball that looks like a billiards cue ball past the center mark of a dirt lane. This ball, called the pallino, is the jack or target. The aim is then for you to get your bocce ball as close as possible to the pallino, and doing so takes a lot more skill and finesse than one might think. A bocce ball is somewhat heavy, weighing three pounds, and is about the size of a grapefruit. There’s strategy involved, your pitch needs the right amount of delicacy, and the ball never ends up where you want. For men who are serious about the game – often older New Yorkers of Italian heritage – the only way to properly resolve a close call is with a laser distance measurer. For my friends and me, close calls are just excuses for more chop-busting.
There’s a sense of languidness in bocce that feels right for summer, even down to the clothes themselves (although Matisse painted his players naked in
Even if you can’t find a court this summer, bocce is rife with summer style inspiration. The game requires movement, so a pair of wider cut trousers and some looser camp collar shirts would make for solid game-winning attire. I really like
Some brands even look as though they were designed with bocce in mind. There’s a sensibility in Camoshita’s relaxed casualwear that somehow seems more Italian than actual Italian casualwear (which, more often than not, is almost indistinguishable these days from the things you’d find at
For something more classic, turn to the simpler combination seen above on Alain Delon – single pleated trousers, slip-on shoes, and a clean linen shirt with the sleeves loosely rolled.